Patient groups can be an invaluable source of information and support for those battling cancer. If there is not a group in your area, did you know that you can start one yourself? Here are some tips to get you started:
Find other patients/caregivers. Ask your doctor if he/she is able to put you in touch with other patients and/or caregivers who might be interested in starting a group. Put up signs at your clinic or hospital. If you have access to the internet, you might try posting to an online bulletin board or to a cancer website.
Organize your first gathering. You can keep it very informal. For instance, you could gather people for a meal at a restaurant, park, or someone's home.
Get acquainted. At your first meeting, start by introducing yourselves to get to know each other and sharing your stories. You might want to play some games or do a fun activity together, as a way of getting to know each other.
Discuss the purpose of the group. As you build your comfort level with each other, you may begin to talk about what you are each looking for in a group. While each of you may have different ideas about what the group will do, you may want to first start by defining the common goals of the group. Typically, the goals of a patient group are to provide information, disease education, and
support to its members.
Name your group: giving a name to the group will help the members feel like they belong to a special group and will also provide recognition for the group in the community.
As you continue to develop your group, you may consider these ideas for future activities:
Draft a mission statement and specific goals to guide your activities.
Fundraise for activities that your group would like to do.
Establish a schedule for meetings.
Decide on leadership and structure. For example:
Would the group like to elect a "leader" and re-elect annually?
Would you like to rotate leadership periodically?
Would you like to form committees for different projects?